Playing with performance
Posted by Hiromi Tango
The weeks in Geraldton have gone by so quickly. We have collaborated and created so many works, and it is growing into such an impressive community sculpture.
Some of you have already participated in workshops with a performance focus with me, such as the ones at Nagle Catholic College where we made wearable sculpture and musical instruments. For me, performance has become a very important part of my art practice, as it brings together so many elements that help to express ourselves.
Dr Jing Sun, a health researcher at Griffith University, with a particular interest in the benefits of arts engagement, wrote that: ‘Performance and creative arts are universal languages that cross cultures and age groups. In addition to providing a range of health benefits, they have been used to alleviate emotional issues and psychological trauma, and improve brain functioning with moderate to large positive effects.’ (Dance 2013 catalogue available at www.mca.com.au).
Dressing up for performance can be very liberating. When we take on a persona through dressing up, it allows us to do things that we may not be comfortable with in everyday life, such as singing or dancing in front of people. It also allows us to express ourselves in a different way – through what we are wearing, or perhaps through performing some sort of ritual that may be associated with our costume.
Sound and music is another way of engaging our senses, and helping us to express all kinds of feelings. Music can bring happiness, joy or comfort, or it can help us to express feelings of sadness or loss that we don’t always have words for, or feel comfortable to talk about. It is often said that music is a universal language – something that can help overcome language and cultural barriers and share in common human experiences.
Likewise movement and dance provide another means of communication without words, and can contribute to wellbeing in a number of ways. At the most basic level, movement encourages fitness. In addition to being good for our bodies, it increases the oxygen flow to the brain, making us feel more energised and positive. And as with any activity that helps us to connect with other people, strengthening our social networks also builds resilience, and helps us to feel less lonely.
Each aspect of performance has benefits, but there is something almost magical when you bring all of these elements together. Do you enjoy performing, or perhaps do you find the idea quite intimidating? Through our workshops we explore ways of participating in performance that make the experience accessible for people of all skill levels and interests. Many find that they enjoy it far more than they ever imagined possible.
I look forward to sharing some performance experiences with you, and hope that you can join me at the ACDC Gallery in Geraldton soon!